Japan’s Ehime prefecture has granted permission for Shikoku Electric Power to apply to use MOX fuel at Ikata 3. Governmental approval is still required, following a safety assessment, but Katsumi Ota, Shikoku’s vice president has celebrated the “virtual approval to start.”

Shikoku president Atsushi Onishi welcomed the local government approval with the words: “The people of the communities have expressed a certain understanding of the significance and safety of MOX fuel and we are grateful. In carrying out the programme, we think it is important to put safety ahead of everything else, but also to continue to seek understanding from the local communities.”

It was announced that Itaka 3, a 846MWe PWR, would burn MOX fuel late last year and Shikoku is expecting to complete the change by 2010, when around 17 other Japanese units may also be using the fuel. The Japanese government has committed to closing it’s nuclear fuel cycle using MOX as part of measures to combat a dire shortage of energy resources.

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